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Statins Show Little Benefit for Kids With Learning Disorder

TUESDAY, July 15 -- New evidence suggests that a cholesterol-lowering drug widely prescribed for adults may not help children with a fairly common genetic disorder.

Zocor (simvastatin) did not improve cognitive function in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a disorder which can involve learning disabilities.

The findings were published in the July 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to background information in the article, NF1 occurs in about one in 3,000 to 4,000 people worldwide. The condition is characterized by changes in skin pigmentation and tumor growth along nerves in the skin, brain and elsewhere. Individuals with this disorder have a higher risk of developing several different kinds of cancer. Patients may also suffer from learning disabilities and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD).

Some studies in mice have suggested that treatment with statins might improve some of these cognitive problems.

To test the theory, researchers at Erasmus MC University Medical Center and Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, randomized 62 children with NF1 to receive either Zocor or a placebo once a day for three months.

There were no significant differences in various cognitive measures, including some involving memory and attention, between the two groups.

The researchers did, however, find an improvement in "object assembly scores."

In conclusion, the authors, said, Zocor should not be prescribed to children with NF1-related cognitive deficits based purely on these results. More studies need to be conducted.

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more on NF1.

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Posted: July 2008